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World of Warcraft Hands-On PreviewE3 2004 Coverage » World of Warcraft Hands-On Preview
May 14, 2004
ActionTrip Editors

When I first got to the Blizzard booth, all the stations running Star Craft Ghost were in use. The game was being run on Xbox, GameCube and PS2 systems. While I waited for my appointment I got to talk to one of the World of Warcraft developers while he played the game. We were lucky enough to get on the beta when it opened up a few months back and you can read that here, but I was interested in seeing some of the content that players will see when their characters reach higher levels.

The dev logged in a Druid and began explaining that Blizzard has been working hard trying to ensure that each character is not pigeon holed into a specific role, but at the same, retains its uniqueness. The Druid he was playing for example has the ability to change into different animals. He could change into a bear for more effective defense while he was fighting or a panther that would allow him to go into stealth mode and deal more damage but at the expense of less armor protection for himself.

I then asked about the instanced dungeons we learned about last year. He said that one thing they have done is make dungeons a combination of instanced and open to all. To demonstrate he warped us to a dungeon and we ran inside. As we entered he explained that since this was supposed to be a game where you could interact with other players, not just NPCs, the dungeons have two things in place. First, when you enter the dungeon you will be in areas that all players could access. As you run around, all players will see each other and the monsters will be fair game. This lends itself to a more social atmosphere and allows you the chance to recruit others into your party, which may help out if you decide to take advantage of the second feature. In this dungeon, there was an archway that had a swirling vortex inside. The developer explained that this was the 'gateway' into the instanced part of the dungeon. Traveling through it, you and your party would be in a dungeon with monsters and events just for you. No competition for kills or treasure, and no down-time waiting for a specific monster needed for items or a quest to reappear after another group took him out.

He then showed how the dungeon itself was not a hole in ground filled with monsters, but actually had a mystery for the players to explore and unravel. Through a series of rooms, we found clues after killing monsters and their leaders that led us to a locked door. After a bit of searching we found a leader that held a key, unlocking that door and leading us further inside. Soon we found a keg of gunpowder that we picked up and took with us. After a few more minutes, we encountered another locked door but this time, we could either go in search of the key, use a thief that was with us to pick the lock, or use the gunpowder and a near by cannon to blast the door off its hinges. Multiple solutions to a single problem is a nice addition to the MMORPG dungeon crawl. We chose to blow the door off. As the pieces of the door flew in every direction, the monsters standing guard in the next room rushed in to investigate. This was a nice surprise and my guide explained that the creatures reacted to their environment in realistic ways. If we had picked the lock, they most likely would not have been alerted and we could have dealt with them one by one, rather than in the great crush our cannon blast had led to.

WoW is on track for a 4th quarter 2004 release.

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